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Secretary of prosecutor in black cult leader's trial slain

The secretary of the lead prosecutor of a black supremacist accused of using murder, arson and extortion to build a religious empire was shot to death at her home, police said Saturday.

Federal agents were investigating the possibility that Pamela Crumbler's murder Friday night was tied to Yahweh Ben Yahweh's trial, but there was no evidence yet of a connection, FBI spokesman Paul Miller said.

Mrs. Crumpler, 45, worked for Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Scruggs, the lead prosecutor in Yahweh's Fort Lauderdale trial.

The trial judge is reportedly being held in protective custody by the U.S. Marshal's Service, a television station reported.

At about 7 p.m. Friday, Mrs. Crumpler arrived at her home in a neighborhood in unincorporated Dade County north of Miami Shores, when three black men accosted her at her front door and shot her once, said Metro-Dade Police Detective Chris Dangler.

Mrs. Crumpler's husband heard his wife getting her keys out and then he heard her scream, Dangler said. He ran out to the front door and saw the suspects, one of whom had her purse.

Mrs. Crumpler lay on the ground by the door. She was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival, Dangler said.

"They fled, her husband stared chasing them on foot. They got into a car and took off," Dangler said.

Witnesses described the car as a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a white vinyl top over a brown or red bottom.

The FBI is assisting Metro-Dade with the investigation, because a federal employee is involved, Miller said. Dangler and Miller said the shooting likely was not related to Mrs. Crumpler's job.

"At this point there appears to be no linkage in any way to this (Yahweh) trial," Miller said.

"Apparently it was a robbery," Dangler said.

Still, officials are taking no chances.

U.S. District Judge Norman C. Roettger is being protected by the U.S. Marshal's Service, Miami television station WSVN reported.

Yahweh, 56, who legally changed his name from Hulon Mitchell Jr. to the Hebrew words for "God son of God," is accused of using violence, arson, and extortion between 1981-87 to build a small Miami sect into a religious empire with hundreds of followers and $8-million in real estate holdings.

He is charged with conspiracy to commit 14 murders, two attempted murders, extortion and arson. He faces up to 60 years in prison and $60,000 in fines if convicted.